Distance Education is an approach to learning where instruction takes place outside the traditional classroom setting. Instead of teaching face-to-face, instructors use electronic or a blend of face-to-face and electronic delivery methods to develop and furnish content for instruction and interact with students.
An online distance education course is delivered via the Internet using a campus-supported Learning Management System (LMS). No on-campus meetings are required. Students are required to use a computer with Internet access as the primary technology and may be required to use other available technologies to acquire and learn course content. Through regular effective contact, instructor and students interact to complete assignments and assessments and to demonstrate Student Learning Outcomes. An online course will be designated as Online in published campus materials.
A hybrid distance education course replaces some face-to-face class time with online instructional time. Any distance education course that requires students to attend on-campus orientations, assessments, scheduled class meetings, or other required activities is a hybrid course. A campus-supported Learning Management System is used to provide course content replacing face-to-face time. Students must have access to a computer and the Internet. A hybrid course will be designated as Hybrid in published campus materials.
Teaching a distance education course provides both you and your students with a lot of flexibility. Often most teaching and learning takes place asynchronously, that is, not at the same time. What this means is that the classroom is not set in a particular time and place. A ‘lesson’, instead of taking 50 minutes in a classroom, may extend over a longer period of time as students access materials and interact with the content, you, and with each other. This gives you the opportunity to get to know a group of students better since distance education classes provide more chances for one-on-one interaction.
In distance education courses, there is a wide range of students. Since distance education courses are inherently student-centered, they lend themselves well to the self-directed learner, that is, the student who is motivated and disciplined enough to manage his or her time wisely. Online delivery methods provide a lot of flexibility and are attractive to a wide audience: full-time college students, students with special needs, and people working full-time. In addition, because distance education is asynchronous, if you teach a course that is fully online you might not only have in-district students in your course but also students from the larger global community.
One thing to consider when teaching a distance education course is that your teaching schedule is different from face-to-face classes. In other words, the boundaries of your teaching schedule are more fluid than in the traditional classroom setting, since students can contact you throughout the day. It is important to understand that you will need to be disciplined in creating a work schedule that ensures you respond to your students in a timely and effective way, otherwise known as having regular effective contact.